When I was 12 years old, my mom’s boyfriend took me to the 1989 World Series played between the A’s and the Giants. In hindsight, I cannot believe he did this. I mean, I probably wouldn’t ever date a guy with kids -- just because, well: ew, kids -- but if I did, I can promise you that no matter how much I loved the dude, when it came time to choose which lucky soul would accompany me to a 49ers’ playoff game, it would never ever EVER be a child. Not even if it were a Make a Wish child.
Sorry people. This is football. I don’t have time for potty breaks, coloring books or cancer. Plus, the person I bring with me has to be able to fetch me beers and last I checked, a 6-year-old is the type of person who would spill that shit.
Anyway, clearly my mom’s boyfriend was a saint because when I said I liked the Giants during my 12th year on this earth, he took me literally. So literally that he brought me to the World Series. Now, just to be clear, as a 12-year-old, I did like the Giants.
As much as a stupid, immature, boy crazy, ugly-as-sin, braces-and-glasses-wearing loser 12-year-old like a baseball team. AKA, I knew the names of all of the players and had a bizarre obsession with Kevin Mitchell. So bizarre that I would take photographs of him. When he was playing baseball. On the television.
But besides not really understanding how the TV worked (I blame my mother for not allowing one into our house), beyond the very simple rules of the game, I had zero appreciation for the Giants. It was just trendy to like them because they were good. I don’t imagine that any of my friends were truly as into the game as we claimed we were, but it was a thing, and well, maybe in my mom’s boyfriend’s defense, he saw that my thing was very quickly about to switch from good old-fashioned American baseball to heavy metal and cigarettes.
Well, regardless. What an amazing guy. Some people never get to go to a World Series at all and, well, FINE, I’ve been to a few, but that was my first, so thank you Mom’s boyfriend. I’ll never understand it, but I will always appreciate it.
ANYWAY, I barely remember anything about the game (see: every paragraph preceding this one), but I do remember this moment:
Someone -- listen, I’m not going to pretend I know who, but for the sake of my story, I’ll hope it was Will Clark -- hit a fly ball. Our seats were, of course, totally amazing and right by third base. Only like 20 rows back, if that. (My mom dated wealthy guys, what do you want?)
The ball was catapulting at us in slow motion, if such a thing like “catapulting” and “in slow motion” were physically possible. A hush came over the stadium (also, not an actual thing that happened, but we’re now dealing with the memory of a 12-year-old). Clearly, I was probably going to get hit in the face with the ball. My ugly, braces-filled, glasses-wearing, is a boy EVER GOING TO FUCKING LIKE ME? face.
So I did what any 12-year-old narcissist would do. I let the boyfriend stand up (he was like 6’ 3”), push every single person out of the way, and I let the ball drop. And then I got on my hands and knees and tried my hardest to find it.
OK, fine. That’s not exactly how it went. There was also the part of the story where as the boyfriend pushed everyone out of the way, he screamed:
“GET THE BALL! GET IT! GET IT! GET IT!”
And I realized I didn’t even really want the ball, but obviously my entire self-worth was now tied up in grabbing it with one hand and holding it high above my head for all to see.
Clearly we all know how this story ends.
I spotted the ball next to an empty beer and a knocked over bag of Cracker Jacks and I reached my grubby little 12-year-old hand out just in time to snatch it away from some overgrown buffoon. I wrapped my fingers around it, held it firm in my grasp, stood up off of the ground, and thrust my hand into the air. The crowd went wild. My mom’s boyfriend held me over his shoulders. Finally, I’d done something right.
Except, you know, not really.
I couldn’t find the ball. And seconds later, some loser (I call him that to make myself feel better) a few rows down grabbed it. The boyfriend looked at me with utter disappointment. He’d done everything right. I was the one who failed.
“Sorry," I said. And I meant it. I felt terrible.
I think I could truthfully say that in that moment, all the boyfriend wanted was for me to come up with that ball. It was clear the Giants weren’t going to pull it out (they lost the series in four in case you live on Mars or in Canada). But the least I could have done -- for him and for me -- was to catch Will Clark’s (at this point in the story, it basically has to be him) stupid fly ball.
Here’s the thing though… I didn’t catch the ball. And the guy a row or two ahead of me -- the guy who did catch/find it? -- he kept it. Because IT WAS HIS BALL. And despite how much I wanted it, it would have been ridiculous for him to give it to me because IN NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM was it mine.
So why am I rambling on about this?
Because I made the mistake of going to USA Today’s sports section today (don’t ask) and I stumbled the headline “Fans Keep Ball From Crying Child at Rangers Game.” I mean, obviously, my immediate instinct was to giggle (I AM SO MEAN), but then I was like, “OK, let me waste five minutes of my life by reading this crap.”
So anyway, the story was this:
A pair of Rangers’ fans (BOO!!!!) caught a ball tossed into the stands. And then, according to the stellar reporting of the paper “REFUSED” to give the ball to a small child as he sat crying. “As he sat sobbing like a little brat” would be more accurate, but USA Today is a family newspaper, so “crying” is probably the best they were allowed to do.
First of all, yes: This was an actual news story.
Second of all, yes: I am making it worse by writing about it again.
Because here’s the thing: When you’re a kid? You don’t always get your way. NOR SHOULD YOU. I can’t tell how old the kid in the story was: 4? 8? 17? But what I do know is that he wasn’t old enough to catch the ball himself. And his parents weren’t coordinated enough to catch the ball for him. So guess what buddy? YOU DON’T GET THE BALL! That’s how life works! Get used to it now.
Seriously, though. Watch the video. The kid wasn’t even close to catching the ball. So should he have just had it handed over to him? IS THAT HOW LIFE WORKS IN 2012? (Don’t answer because we all know it’s “yes.”)
Frankly, I’m not even sure if the guy who DID catch the ball is aware that this baby is crying because he wants the ball! How do we know this kid wasn’t crying the entire time? And this guy’s supposed to just hand over the ball because there’s an 8-month-old pouting about it? What kind of life lesson would that teach him? Whine and pout and stomp your feet and everyone will give you exactly what you want?
(To be fair: That’s a great life lesson and also one that’s mostly true, but it’s better to learn that over something more important, like a really expensive pair of jeans in 6th grade.)
Plus he’s like nine weeks old and I’m pretty sure that you don’t even remember things when you’re that age.
Maybe if I’d caught/scavenged the ball during that World Series game it would be some amazing memory that I’d cherish forever. A story I’d always tell. But truthfully, I’m kind of glad I didn’t catch it. Because more than anything, I’ll never forget the look of disappointment on my mother’s boyfriend’s face. A look that said, “I set you up; I did everything right. And you couldn’t fucking deliver.”
And that, my friends, is a look you never forget. A look that makes you try. A look that makes you realize if you ever get a chance at a ball again, you’re not going to let anyone else take it from you.
Especially not some two-day-old baby.